Australian troops in Iraq, Afghanistan for long term: PM

28/09/2019 | 苏州美甲学校 | By admin | 0 Comments

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attended an ANZAC Day ceremony at Camp Baird in the Middle East with Chief of the Defence Force Air Marshall Mark Binskin after visiting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on Tuesday 25 April 2017. Pool Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesMalcolm Turnbull has flagged an Australian military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, saying training of local forces needs to be “a long-term commitment”.


Speaking on Anzac Day after a meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the Prime Minister also said Australia would consider further requests for help in fighting terrorist and insurgency groups in the Middle East.

“There is no doubt that in both theatres there is going to need to be a long-term commitment,” Mr Turnbull said at Australia’s main base in the Middle East, where he visited Australian troops.

“But it is one of supporting, above all of training, the Afghan and Iraqi security forces – both military and police – to ensure that they have the ability to defend their own country, to push back the terrorists where they’ve made gains and to secure the territory that the government is holding.

“So it is going to be a long-term commitment and we’ll consider, with our allies in these conflict areas, we’ll consider requests for further support. As it evolves, we’ll be looking at that.”

His remarks are significant because it is the strongest indication yet the non-combat deployments to the troubled countries are indefinite. So far, the Australian government has only committed publicly to keeping its training troops in Afghanistan until 2018. Former prime minister Tony Abbott originally stated a two-year deployment for the 330 trainers to Iraq in April 2015.

Since then the Iraq role has been adjusted slightly to train paramilitary police as well as soldiers in recognition of the fact part of the challenge now is holding territory retaken from so-called Islamic State.

Islamic State has been steadily losing territory in Iraq and will probably lose control of its key base in Mosul in coming months. But the security situation remains fragile.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has made gains in recent years and Islamic State has also established a significant presence.

Mr Turnbull had spent the previous two days visiting Australian troops in both countries and held talks with Iraqi and Afghan leaders.

He said that visiting the troops and their Kiwi counterparts at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, served as a “reminder that the Anzac story is not simply a matter for the history books. It is alive.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attended the dawn service at Gallipoli, where Turkish forces had stepped up security amid fears of a terrorist attack, while Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan addressed the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Australian forces at Camp Taji and other bases have trained more than 20,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel and 3000 federal police.

In Baghdad, Mr Turnbull thanked special forces troops for their service, and handed out 15 service medals. For more than two years, the Australian Special Operations Task Group has been advising and assisting the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service in the fight against Islamic State, providing counterterrorism, tactical movement and leadership training, and removing improvised explosive devices.

Mr Turnbull also met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, and congratulated him on the strong military gains against Islamic State, which has now lost more than 60 per cent of the territory it once held in Iraq.

Australia would provide a further $110 million in humanitarian and stabilisation assistance for Iraq, Mr Turnbull said.

In the past year, Australia’s aid program in Afghanistan has helped enrol more than 5000 children in school, trained more than 9000 farmers and funded many women’s shelters.

There are more than 1700 Australian Defence Force personnel in the Middle East, with about 750 contributing to Operation Okra in Iraq and Syria, and 270 contributing to Operation Highroad in Afghanistan.

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